Now, I know many good people from Minnesota. Perhaps even you, today's reader, have spent some time in the \Land of 10,000 Lakes.""
Regardless, when it comes to sports and Minnesota, I am either completely bitter or full of pity.
For starters, Minnesota marred Wisconsin's 1993-'94 Rose Bowl championship season. Thanks to some Metrodome voodoo, Darrell Bevell tossed five demoralizing interceptions that afternoon. Wisconsin lost 28-21, keeping the 10-1-1 Badgers from a national title shot.
Another memory that still irks me is Game 2 of the 1991 World Series. In the third inning, Atlanta outfielder Ron Gant had just singled and after rounding first base, returned to the bag. I remember screaming at the television when Minnesota's tub-o-lard first baseman Kent Hrbek caught the throw and shoved Gant off first base while applying the tag. The optically-challenged umpire called the runner out, even though Gant was obviously safe. The Twins won the game 3-2 and that was the difference in the seven-game series.
Despite all that, I am relieved that baseball Commissioner Bud Selig was not allowed to take Minnesota's baseball team. That would have been a tragedy. After all, Minnesota already lost its beloved NHL North Stars to Dallas in 1993, thanks to ruthless owner Norm Green.
The whole Twins situation should not even be an issue. All the Minnesota fans that jumped out of the woodwork to save the team should be ashamed of themselves for not attending a few more Twins games. Why give ""Err Bud"" a reason to contract your team?
Over the last seven years, the Twins have once again made losing a tradition, with last year's second-place finish in the AL Central the lone exception. During those lean years, home attendance consistently hovered just above half of the league-wide average.
This is the same club that was the first ever to reach both the 2-million mark and the 3-million mark in season attendance. Talk about fair-weather fans.
Unfortunately, Minnesota's sporting woes are not confined to teams that it has lost or nearly lost.
Entering this season, the Minnesota Timberwolves easily had the worst all-time record of the four late-1980s NBA expansion teams. With swift draft picks like Pooh Richardson, Gerald Glass and Felton Spencer, what did you expect?
Over the last few seasons, the T-Wolves clearly have been the best of the recent expansion teams, but alas, they toil in the vastly superior Western Conference. There they lurk in the shadows behind Shaq, Kobe, Steve Nash's hair and Lamar Odom's industrial-sized party bong.
And then there was the Joe Smith saga, which oddly enough starred homegrown hero Kevin McHale in a breakthrough performance. Minnesota just loves to cheat.
Speaking of which, it is time to talk about Golden Gopher basketball. Under the guidance of ousted coach Clem Haskins, the men's team of a few years back was one of the most corrupt programs the NCAA has ever seen. The NCAA even stripped Minnesota's 1996 Final Four appearance from the record books.
Among other things, the scandal included allegations of massive academic fraud, with several players accused of having all their term papers written for them.
As the story goes, new coach Dan Monson
told star center Joel Przybilla he had to start attending class. Shocked, hurt and incensed that he would have to write his own term papers that year, Przybilla quit the team and left school to enter the NBA Draft. I am ashamed that the Milwaukee Bucks took him in.
Yep, that is the pride and joy of our western neighbors: the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
What is so ""golden"" about the Gophers anyway? I suppose the nickname does sound better than the Magenta Ground Squirrels.
On a side note, I cannot imagine a gopher giving a badger a run for its money in any sort of confrontation. I can see where a wolverine might be an even match-up, but a gopher is one of the least fearsome members of the animal kingdom.
And then there is this whole governor issue. It is hard to take the state seriously when Jesse ""The Body"" Ventura runs it. The least Minnesota could have done is gotten a good wrestler like Hulk Hogan or Jake ""The Snake"" Roberts. (Although mediocre, I always liked his DDT finishing move.)
Ah, what can I say? It's good to be a Badger.